Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TGNEWS to 80360 or you can email us Click here for details »
Kiely hits back in Twitter race row
3:30pm Thursday 7th February 2013 in News
A CONTROVERSIAL councillor has publicly defended himself after coming under attack for tweeting a race-related slur at the Conservatives.
Aaron Kiely, a ward councillor for Ockendon, took to Twitter on Monday to say: “Tories don’t offer black communities anything apart from misery and whipped up racism. My honest opinion...”
That led Conservative councillor for South Chafford Tunde Ojetola to slam Kiely’s comments as “appalling”.
The Ockendon councillor’s remarks came after he was asked whether Britain is ready for a black Prime Minister and whether Tory rising star Adam Afriyie would attract young black voters.
Cllr Kiely, pictured above right, said he did not think the MP, who is rumoured to be considering a leadership challenge to Prime Minister David Cameron, would win votes.
Cllr Ojetola, pictured below right, said: “As a black man and a proud Conservative, Cllr Kiely’s slur appalls me. “Conservatives offer every community in Thurrock, and indeed Britain, the same thing – an opportunity to be part of a better, united Britain.
“Cllr Kiely’s comments spread an ‘us and them’ mentality, which aims to divide Thurrock according to race and colour.
“His comments are a disgrace. “They reflect appallingly on the council, and they reflect appallingly on the Labour party and he should resign immediately. “If Labour are truly committed to a one-nation approach, they should dismiss Kiely and distance themselves from this kind of behaviour immediately.” The leader of Thurrock Council, John Kent, refused to comment on the councillor’s tweet and also declined to comment on Cllr Kiely’s no-show at the last full council meeting two weeks ago, leading critics to question Cllr Kent’s judgment.
But in a rare move, Cllr Kiely spoke publicly, telling the Gazette: “What an absurd charge. There was nothing remotely racist in my tweet.
“The Tory-led Government is lowering the living standards of millions of people. So support for Tory candidates, regardless of their race, is declining in elections.
“Young black people like myself are no different from other voters in Thurrock. We can all see the damage being done to the economy and our public services.
“Because their policies are failing, the Tories attempt to drive a wedge between different communities. “The sooner Labour can eject the Tories the better for all in Thurrock and the rest of the country.”